- Language: English
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B0000AKCJM
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,688 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Enigma [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Codebreaking is an inherently fascinating but not especially cinematic endeavour, which is why Enigma spices up the true story of Bletchley Park and its eclectic group of Nazi code-cracking geniuses with some fictional romance and intrigue. Dougray Scott plays gaunt mathematician Tom Jericho, haunted by the spectre of his missing girlfriend Claire (self-consciously gorgeous Saffron Burrows). Tom turns to Claire's frumpy housemate Hester Wallace (dressed-down Kate Winslet) to help him find her, but their search unexpectedly reveals the presence of a spy at Bletchley Park. Matters are further complicated by an investigating secret service agent (imperturbable Jeremy Northam) and the hostility of Jericho's superiors.
Based on the novel by Robert Harris and adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard, Enigma is unsurprisingly a literate and accomplished piece, unfussily directed by Michael Apted who keeps the various current and flashback story threads moving neatly in parallel, helped along by a languid score from veteran John Barry and a vividly realised wartime setting ("Have you heard the latest? Utility knickers--one yank and they're off!"). The contrived plot, however, distracts from the real drama, which is to be found in the desperate struggle to decipher the Enigma machine codes and the sometimes terrible ethical dilemmas involved. A little like that other Kate Winslet film, Titanic, this is another example of the factual background being far more compelling than the fiction grafted on top.
On the DVD: Engima arrives on disc in an extras-free package, with only scene selection and subtitles. More than one excellent documentary has been made about Alan Turing and his team of Bletchley Park codebreakers, so it's doubly disappointing to have nothing here on the real-life events depicted in the movie. Picture is widescreen 1.78:1 and sound Dolby 5.1 surround.--Mark Walker
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I’m intrigued and angered by wartime propaganda and how this film and its extras propound it. The US trailer’s voiceover speaks of Britain as “our greatest allies”. I’ll leave more of that for my blog.
The size of writer Tom Stoppard’s brain is mentioned as much in extras as Tom Jericho’s in the story, but I don’t think this film is satisfactorily told. The book has less romance which is a shame; but the film, in less time, tries to beef this up and misses. I would have liked more scenes between the love triangle so that the final couple feels more convincing.
Much of the drama happens in huts and homes, until they suddenly decide to make it an action movie; this fictional Alan Turing type doesn’t just have a wonderful brain, but can sprint like a leopard, and do shooting and fisticuffs too. His fists are irritating wastes of screentime each time they’re used.
Tom’s reason to find Claire is obvious – she’s his romantic interest. Hester’s is the same, but I don’t think we fully get that as an audience. In the book, it’s more spelt out; but the scene where Hester’s attraction to Claire is shown comes after Hester has joined Tom in looking for her. And to go off with a near stranger at such risk (they do break the law and official secrets act several times) you would need to make Hester’s reasons much clearer. Hester and Claire aren’t particularly close, so you need that romantic draw to fill in what an absent deep friendship might have supplied in giving Hester an impetus.
I think flashing to the Polish forest prewarns us of too much, and as the Atlantic is similarly never humanised due to budget constraints, I think they actually show too little and could have lived without them both.
The EXTRAS show some cuts made to the denouement where Claire’s fate is revealed earlier; I think it’s right that the theatrical release keeps it hidden. There’s too much information in these alternative, original scenes – more Scooby doo than Enigmatic; yet what’s left isn’t quite enough and omits a powerfully emotional, life changing moment for Claire.
A thinking war film is certainly something I’d welcome, but this isn’t entirely what I would have hoped for, whether that’s partly my war views and film tastes; but I don’t think it’s successful at its own game. Jeremy Northam’s character annoyed me so much I fast forwarded him – I disagree with the director that it’s a rich part. We don’t see how or why the final codes are broken – they just are, without a reasoning that steps up the unlocking.
Whereas I think Robert Harris’ book does present some issues with wartime ethics of how the military recruited and treated its own people, the film veers towards heroism and hagiography, and that disappoints and makes it a less complex and satisfying film.
Dougray Scott plays Tom Jericho, a mathematician returning to duty after recovering from a mental breakdown suffered in an earlier stint at The Park while breaking the German military's Enigma code and, probably more to the point, falling for, and being dumped by, the local Tramp. Saffron Burrows is eye-popping as Claire, the blond and willowy femme fatale of the script. Anyway, the Nazis have since changed Enigma, and Tom is asked to help solve the cipher riddle once again before the U-boats decimate the Atlantic convoys. In one of the parallel plots, it's suspected that the Germans planted a spy at Bletchley Park. From evidence found under a floor board, Tom rightly or wrongly suspects Claire may be involved, but she's mysteriously disappeared. And who's buried in the mass grave the German Army is busy uncovering in Eastern Europe, and why has someone high up in the British command structure ordered that all radio intercepts from that enemy unit be ignored?
Scott is quite good in the role of the edgy, scruffy, emotionally tormented Jericho, as is Kate Winslet as Claire's frumpy roommate, Hester, recruited for the code-breaking unit because she won a crossword puzzle contest. I was particularly impressed with Jeremy Northam's Wigram, the intelligence investigator on hand to uncover the postulated enemy agent. In his dapper, glib persona, Wigram is vaguely reminiscent of Cary Grant, though the latter was never quite so oily. I never decided if I liked Wigram or not, but he was endlessly fascinating to watch operate.
It's historical fact that the war effort against Hitler was greatly facilitated by the Brit's ability to decode German military encryptions. ENIGMA is a richly photographed and costumed period piece - an intriguing glimpse inside the congregation of geniuses, misfits and eccentrics gathered together by the War Office to win the war in their own unique way.
I had had the privilege of visiting Bletchley Park previously and had found its state of disrepair and delapidation profoundly upsetting, inappropriate and disrespectful. I am pleased that films such as Enigma have focused attention on Bletchley Park as a site of national if not international significance.